Today I finished finalizing the photographs from my small town series I am including in my gallery exhibit (opening reception November 15th 6pm-8pm at the Gallery at 48 Natoma). As I was looking over the photos in my moms kitchen I started to reflect on these truly unique places. Why because I am sitting here writing this blog post in the dark. I am one of those millions of people in the California power outage. So are all the towns I visited. Also a lot of small towns in rural California areas are one fire right now too.
I won’t get into the politics of it all, but I can’t even access my photos right now, since this is a photography website. So this the one and only post that will be without photos. Sorry. Anyway, the only time we have had power in the past week is Friday. Placerville, where I live, is engulfed in darkness. It’s the weirdest thing to drive up highway 50 with no street lights, only headlights and not see any house lights on either. The other small towns I photographed are all in the same situation. Thousands of people not being able to do their household chores, throwing away all their groceries and loosing money all because PG&E didn’t do what they were supposed these past 30 years, fix their infrastructure in a timely manner.
Small businesses thrive in small towns because it’s based on tourism and locals. When you cut that off people suffer. Their livelihood suffers. In my opinion PG&E needs to be held more accountable. No where else are these things happening, not even in other states that have just as many intense wildfires. But there’s nothing I can do at the moment except complain, right?
For now the power is off. I am hoping to get out in between all this craziness and document the whole thing. It’s the weirdest and eeriest thing to see your town go from a busy town to ghost town. I imagine this is what it would look like if a major doomsday type of event happened. Here’s a better idea do what it all looks and feels like.
The very first day PG&E shut off power people weren’t panicking, but they were definitely on edge. People also were confused. For awhile the stop lights blinked red and then just completely went out. Some drivers knew the rules (treating it as a four way stop) others just would blow through the intersection when they saw it was flashing. Driving my son to school that was incredibly scary!
All the gas stations are closed except for the Express Fuel that Red Hawk Casino owns. Every time I drive by it the lines are 10 cars deep at each pump. Most businesses are closed in Placerville. There are a few open like Raley’s, Home Depot, and the Bean Barn. The Bean Barn has a huge generator parked right outside of it. It’s a drive thru coffee shop only, so the line is 20 cars deep every morning spilling over into the other businesses nearby parking lots. This is the only time I have ever seen their line that long. I went into Raley’s before the outage and people were stocking up on canned food and ice. I was there at 9 in the morning and the ice was almost gone. Today I went into Bel Air in Folsom they had sold out of ice.
There’s not a generator to be found near this region. When I walk outside that’s all hear and smell. When I drive down to Folsom to get some supplies and hang out at my parent’s house every one from up the hill is in the city. I have had to go to Costco three times this week. I constantly over hear conversations about the apocalyptic power outage while shopping.
Thankfully I have parents that live in Folsom and are helping us out. We go down there to cook food and hang out. We drive back in the emptiness of the dark. When get inside we turn on our camp lantern, light candles, turn on our solar lanterns and make sure everything else has batteries. Thank goodness we have propane so we can make breakfast. However, my dishes are starting to smell and laundry is piling up. Oh yeah, I forgot we have to conserve water as the water plants are only running on generators as well. If anything happened to the running water it would really be apocalyptic.
So hopefully the power is going to be restored soon and life in these small towns can go back to normal. What about you? Are you one of the millions without power? Let me know what you think in the comments.